Bramber to the Sea by Road Bike

West Sussex Weekends competition winner and Bramber resident Mike Croker shares his experiences of riding to the coast on a road bike. The Downs Link offers the most direct and potentially pleasant route, but…

Bramber to the Sea by Road Bike

By Mike Croker

It could all be so easy. The route (Downs Link) is mostly there, but the surface isn’t, despite a Sustrans recommendation some 11 years ago that the section from Steyning to Shoreham should have a 3m wide sealed surface (with surface dressing) as it is used for “Commuting (linking into Brighton and Hove); Safe Routes to Schools; Link to Shoreham by Sea station”…

So, starting at the car park opposite the Indian restaurant in the middle of Bramber, cycle west along The Street, avoiding all the parked cars, and hoping that the ones being driven keep to the 20mph speed limit. The Norman castle and church (both worth a visit) are above us on our right, but ahead is the first obstacle, the A283 Bramber roundabout – part of the unofficial Worthing by-pass route.

But hey, we’ve all read “Cyclecraft”, so take the lane and get on with it, taking the second exit into Maudlin Lane. Enjoy the brief downhill, as all too soon we hit the first short climb of 60ft up a bumpy, winding narrow lane used as a rat run in the rush hour.

Catching our breath at the top, we can admire a brief glimpse of Maudlin Farmhouse past the flint wall on our left, before turning left (south) onto Annington Road. Downhill now (make the most of it) but do watch out for loose gravel on the left-hand bend at the bottom of the hill. After 400 yards (watch out for all the recessed drains on the left side of the road) we hit the toughest climb of 100ft up Annington Hill: 1 in 5 at its steepest. Hopefully there won’t be any grain lorries or pig transports trying to use the narrow road at the same time.

The westbound South Downs Way is straight ahead at the top, but we follow the road east and steeply downhill, taking care at the blind bend near the bottom (cars are frequently parked on the offside of this bend forcing Steyning-bound traffic into the middle of the road).

As the road opens out we can see the Saxon St Botolph’s church ahead – well worth a quiet 10 minutes contemplation (or thanks to God having for making it this far) if you have time.

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Upwards again, taking care on the high hedged, narrow blind bends to reach the best downhill of the ride (or the worst long climb on the way back). A brief pause at the top to admire the Adur valley with Bramber and Upper Beeding to the north and Shoreham-by-Sea to the south, and then enjoy the straight coast down to Coombes.

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There’s another Saxon church, tucked away into the hill side at Coombes. Worth a short visit.

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The gradients are reasonably gentle now as we follow the valley side (hoping the rat-running motor traffic on this national speed limit road is not too bad today) past the Cuckoo’s Corner car park to the A27 traffic lights. Crossing the A27 and onto the Old Shoreham Road our routes split depending upon whether we want to go east – there’s no good coastal route until the harbour lock at Southwick, so we go over the old wooden (former) tollbridge to pick up Sustrans NCN2 housing estate meander through Shoreham – or south (then west) along the airport roads.

Southbound, before joining NCN2 at the Widewater car park, there’s just the A259 roundabout to negotiate, but as this is all 30mph limit (and frequently clogged with traffic) it’s not usually too demanding.

Why is it a favourite? Do I have a choice? Have you tried cycling on the A283 south from Bramber, or the Downs Link, in the wet, on a road bike?!?

Comments

  1. Mike Croker says:

    The section south of the South Downs Way Adur crossing bridge is being improved. See http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=101638 for more info.

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